Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN-SPR 2018

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 73 of 83

74 | Unlike the Klondike gold rush period in the early 1900s, where precious metals were extracted from rich veins on a small scale, today's mines (like Pebble) hold mostly low-grade ore, that require behemoth open-pit operations. To make the mine most profitable, Pebble would have to be as large as Manhattan and as deep as the Grand Canyon. Just to obtain one single pound of ore, miners would have to sift through and eradicate 99 pounds of rock. Chemicals used to separate the gold and copper deposits from the rest of the rock create toxic waste that must be contained on-site. Dams would have to be built to handle billions of tons of mine "tailings" to keep it from contaminating the surrounding environment—forever. "Tailings" are the mud-like toxic waste left over from the chemical process of separating the valuable part of the ore from the invaluable. According to the EPA, the mine would have the potential to destroy 94 miles of streams and 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes… and that doesn't take into account the additional socio-economic and environmental impact from the infrastructure required to build such a project. Matt Luck has been a commercial fisherman in Alaska for 40 years. The founder of Pride of Bristol Bay, he and his family sell traceable and sustainable Bristol Bay salmon nationwide. Regarding the proposed Pebble Mine, Luck says, "This issue has brought every stakeholder together like none other. There's no place like Bristol Bay in the world. It is truly a global treasure, an incomparable cold-water fisheries habitat. "Consequences created from the development of the Pebble Mine have the potential to rival the environmental disaster caused by the grounding of the Exxon Valdez on March 24, 1989." At the time, the Exxon Valdez was the worst oil spill in North America, spilling 11 million gallons of oil into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. Luck, a resident of Cordova, Alaska, at the time of the spill, remembers vividly the social, economic and environmental havoc that rained down upon the region for years after that catastrophic event. Luck comments, "The oil industry said it could never happen, and now we are hearing the same rhetoric from the proponents of the Pebble project, and quite frankly, it's frightening." There's reason to worry about Pebble. Proponents of Pebble Mine contend that the mine plan is safe, and strict measures would be taken to protect the environment. The same was said about Polley Mine. But on August 4, 2014, a tailings pond dam burst at Mount Polley, an open- pit copper and gold mine in British Columbia, Canada, spilling six billion gallons of toxic waste. Within four days, the 1.5-square-mile sludge pond was virtually emptied into nearby lakes and streams. Arsenic, copper, nickel, and lead, contaminated drinking water and salmon spawning grounds. Mine safety experts called it "the In Bristol Bay, sockeye salmon is the catch of the day for this fisherman. Photo by Chris Miller.

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